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County trying to keep up with COVID-19 contact tracing
COVID-19 blood tests

While area hospitals are dealing with a crush of COVID-19 cases, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency is straining to keep up to date with data and contact tracing, said Stanislaus County Public Health Officer Dr. Julie Vaishampayan during an online community briefing.

The county has 20 individuals from the state helping with contact tracing, but the backlog of cases combined with the rising number of new cases, is proving to be a challenge for the health department.

Contact tracing and testing are seen as two critical components to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Contact tracing has two parts to it. The first part is contacting the individual who has tested positive and establishing all the places they have been over a certain period of time and all the people they have been in contact with. The second part is then contacting those people and those businesses to inform them of the COVID-19 exposure. Those people will in turn need to be tested or self-quarantine for a time period.

"The investigation piece is where we need the most help," Dr. Vaishampayan said.

Dr. Vaishampayan said the health department has had some trouble getting people to answer their phones for the contact tracing. The callers will leave a message. The caller identification may not state that it is coming from the county health department, but the number will have the 209 area code and the first three digits will be 558. Calls coming from the state might display CA COVID team depending on the carrier. Otherwise, it will be coming from a number with a 916 area code. If people are unsure if the call is legitimate, Dr. Vaishampayan suggested asking the caller for a callback number.

"It will be very helpful if you answer your phone," Dr. Vaishampayan said.

As of Friday, Stanislaus County has had 7,603 COVID-19 cases with 1,247 presumed active. In the last 24 hours there were 202 new cases and seven new deaths recorded in Stanislaus County.

The county has recorded a total of 86 deaths from COVID-19.

There are currently 284 people in Stanislaus County hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 58 are in ICU. The available hospital beds was at 33.7 percent on Friday and the available of ICU beds was at 0.9 percent. Ventilators available for use is at 65.3 percent.